Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard defends Rickie Lambert

The striker struggled against FC Basel, but he has his captain's backing.

Liverpool fought hard to make it into the Champions League this season. They finished as runners-up in the Premier League last term and were desperately unfortunate to not end the season as league champions.

But despite spending plenty of money on strengthening the team the club have failed to impress on the grandest stage of them all.

The lack of a true goalscoring threat has not helped. With Luis Suarez being sold and Daniel Sturridge injured for the majority of the season so far they have relied on Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert to grab goals for the side. Balotelli has been injured for the past six games while Lambert has toiled away up front by himself.

Despite some improvements in his recent performances the former Southampton man has, in general, been a disappointment since his arrival at Anfield. The boyhood Liverpool fan has simply not lived up to the expectations many had from his time with Southampton.

Last night was perhaps his worse game in a Liverpool shirt. He struggled against the talented Basel defence and never looked a true goal-scoring threat. In truth, he deserved to come off at half-time.

But while many have openly criticised him for his performance hos captain Steven Gerrard has come to his aid in the past 24 hours.

He made it clear that Lambert had put everything on the line recently, as the only fully fledged and fully fit striker available to Liverpool:

"[It] is crucial is that we get our main striker [Daniel Sturridge] back who is capable of getting the goals to get us into the top four.

"We need to get Mario Balotelli back firing as well. If we can get goals in the team it gives us a better chance.

"But at the moment it's a bit of a rollercoaster. It's tough but take nothing away from the lads that are here slogging away every week. Rickie Lambert has ran himself into the ground in the last five games."

It is important to remember Lambert's age and the fact he would never have played this many games in a row, even at Southampton. Simply put, the blame cannot be attached to the bargain buys door and Gerrard has made that perfectly clear.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch